2018 in Review
It is hard to believe that we are just about to close the books on the second year of Small Data Industries – and what year it was! In 2018 everything doubled in size: our client portfolio, the size of our team, and the size of our lab. We are excited to share with you a review of some of the highlights of our year.
Additions to the team
Erin Barsan joined the team to manage critical operations at Small Data, serving as a client liaison, maintaining our ambitious project roadmaps, forging new collaborations, and ensuring that our high standard of excellence is embedded deeply within all of the work we do.
Rachel Ward is spending her year-long NDSR-Art fellowship, providing critical preservation of the archives of Eyebeam and Laurie Spiegel, as well as researching new models of support Small Data can develop to better serve the ecosystem of artists studios, galleries and private collections.
Nick Kaplan, a graduate student in the Winterthur Art Conservation program, is spending his third year with us. Nick has become an invaluable member of the team, conducting artwork condition assessments, repair, documentation, and scientific material analysis.
A New Lab, and a Fresh Coat of Paint
All of this growth meant that we rather quickly outgrew our humble starter lab, and so we kicked off 2018 by opening the doors to a larger lab. We are still based in Industry City – which has continued to serve as a fantastic hub for our operations.
Our brand received a rather significant fresh coat of paint, courtesy the talented folks at Bone Design.
Our new generative wordmark embodies the layers of abstraction and interpretation inherent in the time-based media artworks we help to steward through time.
Artist Estates & Studios
One of the things we love about the work we do, is the potential for little discoveries and surprises. We found just that in the archives of the late painter Leo Bates. The artist’s foundation brought us a box they found containing floppy disks, audiocassettes, and hand-written notes.
We stabilized a few floppy disks and audiocassettes, which we found contained digital artworks Bates had programmed in BASIC in the early 80’s.
Despite seeing considerable early-career success, by the 80s, Bates had removed himself from the spotlight of the art world. It seems that other than Bates and his widow, we are likely the first to see these digital artworks since their creation.
This year we had the honor of working with Louise Bourgeois’ Foundation. The thousands of analog sound, video, and film recordings in the artist’s archives document Bourgeois’ life and work, as well as the countless infamous artists who spent time with her over the decades in lower Manhattan. Our work culminated in a comprehensive inventory, and strategic plan and roadmap for digitization.
We have been working with Cory Arcangel’s studio since day one – this year we kicked off an exciting new project with Cory to re-design the housing for his video game modification works. This will serve as long-term storage, as well as the package received by collectors and institutions when these works are acquired.
In addition to preparing and condition assessing all of the modified game cartridges, we are designing archival housing for the game consoles, cartridges, and conservation documentation. We are also producing high-quality photo and video documentation for the studio’s internal and external use.
The Whitney Museum of American Art called on us to establish their first digital preservation and access system. We employed a user-centric process to establish functional requirements, vet potential solutions, and ultimately implement and configure a highly automated and optimized free and open source digital repository.
In November, we began work with the Art Gallery of Ontario to develop a three year strategic plan for bolstering their internal time-based media conservation capabilities. We are incredibly excited to be helping the AGO establish itself as another hub in the international community of time-based media conservation practitioners.
For the collections and conservation team at the National September 11th Memorial & Museum, we have been providing support in the form of digital preservation coaching. By employing a framework to establish, track, and measure goals, we are helping the team to empower themselves and create a sustainable foundation of in-house expertise.
In addition to coaching, we have been supporting the 9/11 Memorial & Museum team with bespoke conservation services as needed. The museum called on us to help restore and exhibit Wolfgang Staehle’s Untitled (2001) for the first time since its original installation at Postmasters Gallery.
We began a new collaboration with The Current Museum, to process all artworks acquired at their regular salons. This work ensures that all new acquisitions receive the highest level of care from an expert time-based media conservator, including condition assessment, artist interviews, and preparation for long-term storage.
The Current’s growing collection of course needs to live somewhere, and so we established a peer-to-peer system that ensures the integrity, security, and access to The Current’s collection.
We concluded our long-term project with the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and established a vision for further developing the institution’s practices for the acquisition, display, and conservation of digital and computational design.
The conservators and curators at the Cooper Hewitt are now backed by a wealth of research results on the long-term preservation of computers, electronic prototypes, 3D printed objects, and iOS apps.
Publications & Lectures
As part of our ongoing work with the Museum of the Moving Image, we published a technical case-study on the acquisition and preservation of Animated GIFs.
For Apollo magazine, Founder and Lead Conservator, Ben Fino-Radin, penned an article on the history and evolution of the practice of time-based media conservation.
Ben shared the team’s work internationally, speaking at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, NADA Art Fair, the Institute of Fine Arts, the Library of Congress, and the annual meeting of the American Institute of Conservation.
Thank you to everyone who made 2018 such a special year for the entire team at Small Data Industries. We can’t wait to show you what we have planned for 2019.
Happy New Year!